Many people come, walk around a bit – eating some pizza, drinking some beer, dodging creepy offers for ‘marijuana? opium?’ from hill-tribe grandmothers holding babies – and get out of town by day. Visitors on tours organized from Hanoi already have their days plotted out in advance, but those treks are easily arranged from here. Plus there are many additional things you can do on your own by bike, motorbike and hiking boot.

MUONG HOA VALLEY South of Sapa, this valley’s the heart of all treks and group tours, with homestays, waterfalls and great views.

CAT CAT VILLAGE Easy as a DIY half-day walk, with its own waterfall and nearby trails that require a guide.

MT FANSIPAN The mother mountain of Southeast Asia — climbs take one to three days, depending on your ability.

BAC HA Famed Sunday market sees many group tours, but there’s reason to stay longer in what may become the ‘next Sapa.’

SILVER WATERFALL Nearby falls, en route to Fansipan climbs, can be reached on your own too.

TA PHIN VILLAGE Red Dao village, north of town, sees fewer visitors.